Conference calls – benefit to the bottom line or a waste of time?

Research of 1,006 UK office workers by Opinion Matters on behalf of headset vendor Plantronics has found that 84% are more reliant on conference calls to do business than ever before – spending on average three hours more a week on the phone than they did 12 months ago. However, two thirds (60%) of people admit to being otherwise engaged when on calls – checking emails, doing unrelated work and even shopping online.

Although often more convenient than face-to-face meetings, 54% of respondents felt that conference calls were not as effective as they could be, due to a frequent lack of call structure, and not being able to understand people clearly enough. Over half of those questioned said that they often can’t hear what is being discussed on the call and 42% said they are unable to focus on the discussion due to background noise.

Conference call etiquette was also found to be lacking, with over half complaining about late joiners, heavy breathers and ‘Houdini’s’ – people who drop off the line halfway through. A further 30% claim to lose interest because they find other callers voices boring or annoying.

The Plantronics research shows that over three quarters (79%) of office workers take part in three or more conference calls each week. Cost cutting (40%), under resourcing (21%) and reducing carbon footprint (19%) being the primary reasons for the increase.

However, despite the increased reliance on calls to do business, the majority of people (90%) have never had any formal training on how best to conduct themselves on a conference call, and do not have supporting technology such as noise cancelling headsets or suitable office space to carry them out properly (85%).

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